A work session designed to help with collaboration and cooperation led to differing responses from two Olentangy school board members responding to a ThisWeek poll.

A work session designed to help with collaboration and cooperation led to differing responses from two Olentangy school board members responding to a ThisWeek poll.

The board attended a three-hour work session July 22, headed by Carolyn McKanders, a consultant and co-director of the Center for Adaptive Schools, and Irene Bandy-Hedden, who helped rewrite the board policies in 2004, to guide board members in policy and collaboration.

Responding to the poll were Julie Wagner Feasel and Jennifer Smith.

Wagner Feasel said she gained a better appreciation for the differences of opinion of her fellow board members.

Smith said most of the board has not been following some of the work session's recommendations.

"One thing that really stood out was when the facilitator Carolyn McKanders said 'With collaboration comes conflict.' That is true," Wagner Feasel said. "Our board members have different backgrounds, experience levels and expectations so I should expect conflict because we are all going to have different opinions. It's learning to accept these differences of opinions that will allow us to be able to compromise to get our job done."

She said she was particularly taken with the polarity exercise which showed that there are two sides to every issue and helped board members understand how to strike a balance.

"That exercise was very helpful to me and refocused my thinking that as a board we have to do what is best for the entire district, not just a select few," said Wagner Feasel.

Smith said the Carver Policy Governance Model -- which was discussed at the work session -- supports a clear separation of the board and superintendent and the board and treasurer.

"A majority of the board does not operate under this model," she said.

She said McKanders encouraged the board to have difficult discussions during public meetings where all viewpoints are shared.

"The current board does not encourage discussion, nor does it respect dissenting views, both of which are necessary to achieve consensus," she said. "Some board members believe they were elected to represent students and/or district employees while I believe I was elected to represent Olentangy community residents. These fundamental differences in beliefs and ensuing perspectives affect every aspect of board business including board relations."

Smith believes the board needs to have further discussion to determine if board policy pertaining to agenda preparation and dissemination should be adhered to.

Smith said the "current practice of prohibiting individual members from placing items on the agenda for discussion" results in unequal board representation.

The board, according to Wagner Feasel, still needs to discuss adding a financial or operational piece to its continuous improvement plan.

"I also think we need to discuss how and when we will evaluate ourselves as a board," she said. "This will allow us to make sure that we are keeping to task. Another issue to discuss is to resolve some of the differences of opinion in some of the current policies. Though our current board policies were written just four years ago, a lot has changed since then and we need to make sure our policies are still relevant today."

Wagner Feasel said she thought the work session with two experts in the field of Carver Policy Governance Model was worth the investment.

The board agreed to pay no more than $4,000 out of the Board Professional Development fund for the

Smith criticized that expenditure.

"The board already pays annual dues to the Ohio School Boards Association to provide expert consultation services," Smith said in a board poll by ThisWeek Community Newspapers. "The additional expense to the taxpayers of $4,000 plus for a three-hour session to understand board policy was not a responsible appropriation of funds."

Smith said she plans to hold herself to an earlier statement to reimburse the district for the amount of her board compensation for attending.

President Scott Galloway, Dimon McFerson and Teri Meider failed to reply to the poll despite attempts to also reach them through the communications department.